Where were you in 1987?

The first Rugby World Cup was played in May and June of 1987 in New Zealand and Australia.  The final was at Eden Park in Auckland on 20 June.  The All Blacks beat France, 29-9.  Australia and Wales played for third place in Rotorua on 18 June, and Wales won by a single point, 21-20.  A quick run down the names of the All Black World Cup team is a quick trip down memory lane: Gallagher, Kirwan, Stanley, Fox, Kirk, Shelford, Jones, Whetton, Fitzpatrick, and McDowell. 

In 1987 I was 14 years old, and I watched with great enthusiasm as we marched relentlessly to the final.  I can remember Kirwan’s end to end try, and Michael Jones’ silky athleticism, not yet being bored by Grant Fox, and Captain Kirk breaking off the back of the All Black scrum against France in the final and making a great run only to sort of painfully munt himself against some giant French cover.  It was a great way to start an era of great rugby for the All Blacks.

In 1987 I was in the fourth form at Kapiti College, living in a house in Raumati Beach with my mum.  I would have been a doughty defender for my Raumati Hearts soccer team (my mother having prudently refused to let me play rugby from the age of five).  I won a lot of player-of-the-season trophies for that team mainly because we were hopeless, and always defending, and I was a defender who was very, very stubborn.

If I was fourteen then I was in love with pop music, but not yet playing it.  I think I got into guitar lessons in the fifth or sixth form.  I certainly would have begun my Smash Hits collection by then, and it is one of my lasting regrets that in a fit of “I am too cool for this” I threw them all out in my early 20s. 

Here are the edited highlights of the number ones for 1987:

Red codpieces and tight black lycra. Why didn’t that catch on?  Word.

  • Funky Town – Psuedo Echo

The dude with the synthesiser guitar thingy.  I thought that was pretty damn cool at the time.

    I have a very specific memory of this song.  It is of working in the garden at the back of our house in Raumati with the radio on.  It was a beautifully sunny day and I had a blue plastic jug filled with water sitting on the lawn.  This song came on the radio and I lay down on the grass and drank it in.  I remember feeling the intensity of the grass and its green, and the sky and the jug’s blue, and the way the water moved.  It was a feeling of great aliveness and peace.

  • Lean on Me – Club Nouveau

This is a decent cover version.  It does have some silly 80s sounds in it, but it’s fine.  I didn’t buy this record at the time, but found it in a pile of records someone was giving away for free a couple of years ago.

1987 was the year of Bon Jovi.  My best mates at the time were Anthony and an American guy called H.D.  I remember us walking past the gym at school singing at the top of our voices: “Shot to heart and you’re to blame… you give love a bad name.”  We probably also did strangled guitar sounds after that.  Man, Bon Jovi were big in 1987.  I would have been too cool to love them two years later, so I’m glad they came out in 1987.

I don’t really know why but I LOVED this song.  I used to wait all through RTR countdown so I could covertly dance to it in the living room while my mum made tea in the kitchen.  I didn’t know for years that (a) it was a cover, (b) it was not the high point of Iggy Pop’s career, (c) Iggy Pop had had a career before this song, and a lot of Iggy fans were probably upset by this song, or (d) that David Bowie was mostly responsible for all of this.  I actually own this album which is patchy, but does have some good tracks on it.

  • I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston

The big, curly, golden wig (of shame).  I have never been a Whitney fan but, as everyone from my generation knows, saying the words of Greatest Love of All as if they were a speech is very funny, “I believe the children are our future”.  Maybe it’s a teacher thing.

  • Respectable – Mel and Kim

Boobs.  Considering I was a 14 year old boy I have pretty vivid memories of Mel (or Kim’s) boobs bouncing up and down under her baggy jersey as they (Mel and Kim, not their boobs) did their silly dancing in an implausible dark alley.  This must have been before I found out who Stock, Aitken and Watermen were, and grew to hate them with passionate intensity.

  • La Bamba – Los Lobos

I loved this movie.  Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

  • Game of Love – Tex Pistol

A good example of thinking that something is cool, and twenty years later hanging your head in shame.  All those massive electronic beats, and synthesised voices.  Ugh.  (I still secretly sing along though.)  The video is extraordinarily un-sexy for a song about the game of love.  We are clearly in the era before women were expected to gyrate in bikinis in videos.  The young lady in this video is dressed for bad weather.

A seriously good album.  Even I could tell at fourteen.

Here we are at the beginning of the pinnacle of U2’s career.  I was absolutely in love with U2 for about three years.  I bought all of their albums, I bought books about them, and I went to see Rattle and Hum at the Embassy.  I believe that people generally didn’t like Rattle and Hum, but I loved both the album and the movie.  In fact I found the movie exhilarating.  The Embassy has a really good sound system and seeing all those great songs with the music thundering through you was very, very exciting.  It was probably one of the reasons that I wanted to start making music myself.  It’s a real shame U2 didn’t call it quits after Achtung Baby.

  • Faith – George Michael

Post Wham! I don’t think anyone was confident that George would have a career.  It was a lot easier to be a girl and like Wham!  I had to keep my fandom secret.  There was a strong bogan component to Kapiti College (they had little army satchel bags which they had spent hours decorating with AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and ZZ Top logos done in black vivid pen) who would have at the very least sneered at me if they knew I listened to Wham!  When he started off with I Want Your Sex it seemed like George might have nothing left but controversy.  Thankfully it was just a cynical PR strategy.

Faith was such a good single that I’m sure even a few bogans tapped their foot to it.  And George was still pretending to fancy girls at this point so bigots could like him too.  

It was quite a trashy year at the movies.  The juvenile comedy genre was thriving (Police Academy, Meatballs, Space Balls, and Revenge of the Nerds), as was the crappy horror genre (Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Howling), and crappy tie-ins (Care Bears and G.I. Joe).  We were all being dragged through America’s fascination with the Vietnam War (Full Metal Jacket, Hamburger Hill, Good Morning Vietnam, and Gardens of Stone), and big epics were winning the Oscar: The Last Emperor.

There were a bunch of movies released that I didn’t know about until much later (Angel Heart, Wings of Desire, Withnail and I, and Barfly), and then there were the hits of the year: Beverley Hills Cop II, Bagdad Cafe, Fatal Attraction, La Bamba, Living Daylights, Lost Boys, Moonstruck, Princess Bride, Predator, Robocop, Running Man, Roxanne, Teen Wolf Too, Three Men and a Baby, The Untouchables, Wall Street, Who’s that Girl?, and the Witches of Eastwick.  Seems like it was a good year for Cher and Michael Douglas.

At the time I think I saw Roxanne, Teen Wolf Too, La Bamba, Princess Bride, Bagdad Cafe and The Last EmperorTeen Wolf was ridiculous. 

 Bagdad Cafe featured a cool song and Jack Palance.  Of course I had no idea who Jack Palance was at the time (or maybe I knew him from Ripley’s Believe it or Not).  My favourite movie was either La Bamba or Princess Bride.  La  Bamba because it was about rock’n’roll, and Princess Bride because it was so bloody good.

Incidentally, Peter Jackson released Bad Taste, and Bill Cosby proved he was not funny in Leonard Part 6 (which was actually big news in the Cosby Show days).  The Simpsons began appearing as a short, badly drawn segment in the Tracey Ullman Show.  A show that I always watched and was always disappointed by.

It was the year that I thought stone washed black jeans and a striped grey shirt were what you did when you dressed up, and stone washed black jeans, a basketball T-shirt and white basketball boots was being cool.  Let’s not even get into the hair.

All kinds of other things may have happened in 1987 but I was 14 and didn’t much care.  I see that in August we had an election with Labour returned to government, but in October we also had a stockmarket crash, and the shine was certainly coming off things as Roger Douglas revealed what wonderful world had in store for us all (Ruth Richardson was taking notes).  As I said, I didn’t much notice this.  School, pop, movies, TV and day dreaming about girls.  1987.

What was it like for you, the year we last won the Rugby Word Cup?

8 thoughts on “Where were you in 1987?”

  1. What was it like for you, the year we last won the Rugby Word Cup?

    All that music – and I mean all of it – is what it was like for me. To the point where I literally have no memory of the 1987 RWC but all those songs take me to a specific time and place and stir up all kinds of emotions.

    I’d add one more song – “Boops (Here To Go)” by Sly and Robbie. I saw the video once on Shazaam one day after school. Compared to the usual stuff like Mel and Kim, it was so weeeeeird. What did it even mean? At school the next day I discussed it with my friends, trying to figure out its curious beats and lyrics.

    I saw Sly and Robbie play in 2003. I was somewhat disappointed that they didn’t play “Boops”.

  2. 1987.
    For some reason, when I remember the RWC, I always think of Databank. This was to be my new career as a computer programmer, but, in less than a year, I was made redundant and was back teaching. So, why do I assosiate Databank with the RWC of 1987? The old memory certainly can play tricks. I do remember being at Databank when I learned that Jaco Pastorius had died. I hope you know who Jaco was. If not, watch this…

    But where was I in 1987?
    In 1987 Steph was three and George one. I must have been teaching at St Patrick’s Primary school in Wainuiomata. We were living in Hine Road. That’s about it really. I was playing gigs, more on electric than double bass. Probably playing with a band called Flying High and doing some fill in gigs with the Rodger Fox Big Band. I was doing quite a bit of trumpet playing too around this time. I wasted quite a bit of time practising the trumpet when I should have been practising bass. Looking back, life was pretty simple when the kids were little. Lots of time would have been spent doing kid-type things – like you’re doing now. My dad turned sixty earlier that year. Yes, that’s right, we bought our first house in Wainuiomata that year, so I would have been at Databank – we were living in Kilbirnie when Bob turned sixty. Maybe the world cup final was played around the time I was made redundant? I had a young family and needed to be in work, so the next day, I found relieving work at a school called Parkway College. Sound familiar? Well, Parkway College later became Nuova Lazio High School. I actually worked in the music room. When I returned in 2005 the room was just about identical to how I remembered it. F Block didn’t exist then. I relieved at Parkway College for a couple of weeks, before getting the job at St. Patrick’s Primary. Ah, so long ago! It’s time we won the world cup again.

  3. RIchard – wow, that Jaco track is amazing. I’ve never heard of him. But then, I’m pretty ignorant of bass players unless they were in pop or rock bands. Databank rings a small bell in my head. It is not a name that inspires much enthusiasm, however.

    Robyn – Oh my. Boops. When I played the track I remembered.

    I have been investigating further about 1987: Justified Ancients of MuMu?, Who’s That Girl world tour, Bad was released (could he repeat the hype of Thriller… sort of, yes), Def Leppard released Hysteria, Kylie Minogue and the Locomotion (hated that song), Public Enemy (Yo! Bum Rush the Show… do what now?), Prince’s Sign O the Times (LOVED this, and still have my battered double LP), Solitude Standing, Whitesnake (their video was like a 1950s car commercial – hot chick on a car bonnet, cue writhing), DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Swing Out Sister, The Hard Line According to…, Appetite for Destruction, Aerosmith, Pet Shop Boys (Actually), Momentary Lapse of Reason, Tiffany, Faith No More, T’Pau, World Wrestling Federation, Icehouse’s Man of Colours, Wet Wet Wet, Belinda-Heaven on Earth-Carlisle, Nothing Like the Sun, INXS Kick, Surfing With the Alien, Sinead O’Connor – The Lion and the Cobra, Sisters of Mercy, WASP, Alison Moyet, Walk Like and Egyptian, Rick Astley, Starship, I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight, Alone, Mony Mony, Tunnel of Love (yawn), and

    Dirty Dancing?
    How did I miss this? (I’ve had the time of my life)

    Meanwhile in other places: Caravan of Love, Ce La Vie, Reet Petite, Cry Wolf, The Final Countdown, Blow Monkeys, Smiths, Mental as Anything, Big Time, La Isla Bonita, Janet Jackson, STAR TREKKIN’, You’re the Voice, Bruce Willis’ solo album, Pet Shop Boys and Dusty, Pump up the Volume, House Nation, Was Not Was, Little Lies, Freddy “Barcelona” Mercury, Fairy Tale of New York…

    Christ it’s a tidal wave of pop candy gold:

    Did I do anything in 1987 other than soak up music like a hairy, spectacled, grey stripey shirted sponge?

  4. Oh. My. God. JP – I had forgotten all of this (or should that be ‘blocked’?!) I was 16 that year. My hair rivalled yours. My playlist equalled yours (except it wasn’t a playlist was it, it was a pile of tapes – half nabbed from the radio between ads). I wasn’t as fascinated by Mel (or Kim’s) boobs but I was kinda hoping to get some of my own (in vain for several more years, as it turned out), and you were right, stonewash jeans and sneakers WAS dressing up. Sigh.

  5. I was already “working for a living” as a salesman. I didn’t follow rugby or any other sport. I thought all pop music was crap, but I was learning about computers whch were cool. Princess Bride didn’t even register until the end of the century, when I realised it really was great.(The book’s even better)

    Duran duran had greatvideos with hot girls, but Wham was always a bit “eugh”

    Like the hair.


  6. Anna and Doug – We can all talk without shame about hair on this blog. In 1987 I was one year away from a perm.

  7. Wild Child – what a great song! I heard it first in the early ’60s by the late great Jet Harris. I’m surprised to now find it was a cover of an Australian original.
    The EP was one of the first records I bought. Sadly, I lost it years ago, but you can see/hear it here:

    at 45rpm on a very cool record player, complete with auto-changer.
    “I’m mean,
    I tear wings off flies…”
    Gosh, that’s really mean!

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